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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

American Idol: Kris or Adam?; "Angels & Demons" Controversy

Aired May 15, 2009 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, American Idol's rate the last two standing.

Who will it be, wholesome Kris...

(MUSIC)

KING: ...or over the top Adam?

(MUSIC)

KING: Those who have been there -- Justin, Kimberly, Elliott and Sanjaya -- are here to tell us, is this the best "Idol" ever?

Plus, Tom Hanks and Ron Howard -- one of the most successful teams in Hollywood history -- hopes for another home run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: He's never shown up drunk and I've never taken a swing at him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: "Angels and Demons" could be a blockbuster. But controversy over religion, could it keep people away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANKS: This is a big fat piece of fake goo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

It's Friday night at the movies. "Angels and Demons" is now playing. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard are hoping for big things.

We're going to talk to them about their new film shortly. A big opening for them tonight. We wish them the best.

It's that time again, when there are just two "American Idol" finalists. Kris and Adam are the last men standing.

Who's going to win? We'll ask our guests, host Ryan Seacrest, who is going to phone it in tonight and former Idols Justin Guarini, runner-up from season one and now host on the TV Guide Networks this year; Kimberly Caldwell, she's from season two, also on the TV Guide Network; and Elliott Yamin placed third in season five. He's got a new album out, "Fight for Love." There you see its cover. And Sanjaya will join us shortly.

Let's get right to it.

Adam Lambert, 26, California, been a favorite from day one -- wild, talented, over the top.

Let's watch Adam.

(MUSIC)

KING: Like a male Celine Dion.

Anyway, let's get the words of the panel.

Justin, what do you make of our man Adam?

JUSTIN GUARINI, HOST, TV GUIDE NETWORK: You know, he was a favorite from day one. And I think the first thing we heard was his voice, the amazing range that he has. But then as he went and he matured with the show, we begin to see that he has got some amazing style. And he really has a command of his arrangements and the lighting and everything. And he's just, all across the board, an amazing performer.

KING: Favorite, would you make him, Kimberly?

KIMBERLY CALDWELL, FORMER "AMERICAN IDOL" CONTESTANT: Oh, I think he's definitely a fan favorite and now even a judge favorite. You know, everybody has said that they sent him...

KING: So how could he lose?

CALDWELL: ...sent him right to the finals. Well, it might actually hurt him because I think Kris' fans are really going to rally together and Danny's fans, since he's not getting the votes anymore, might actually wind up going to Kris.

KING: All right, (INAUDIBLE)...

CALDWELL: But Adam is amazing. I think he's the most unique person we've ever had on "American Idol."

KING: Most unique ever?

CALDWELL: I really do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly. Without a doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without a doubt. CALDWELL: Yes. And vocal range, may be the best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ELLIOTT YAMIN, FORMER "AMERICAN IDOL" CONTESTANT: I -- I would have to agree with that. I mean these guys get paid to analyze and overanalyze every little thing about the show, you know, but...

(CROSSTALK)

YAMIN: Personally, right?

(LAUGHTER)

CALDWELL: We're like -- we're like little Simons.

YAMIN: But, personally, I agree. I think...

(CROSSTALK)

YAMIN: I think that Adam Lambert has been great for ratings. He's been great for the show. And I think he's the most unique, most dynamic contestant the show has ever seen.

KING: Ryan, you're on the phone with us. And Ryan will be hosting this program, one week from tonight and following Monday, over Memorial Day weekend, with "Idol" winners and runner-ups.

What do you make of this?

Is he the best ever, Adam?

RYAN SEACREST, HOST, "AMERICAN IDOL": He may be. Those guys all have great points. He's certainly always entertaining. At the end of the day, it's an entertainment show. And Adam always had something up his sleeve. You never know what to expect with Adam.

Kris -- I think Kim made this point. Kris is an interesting position because he continues to grow and build with each week that goes by. And with Danny Gokey out after last week, you've got to wonder where will all of the Danny fans go?

And they could go to Kris.

KING: With those -- apparently, there are photos out, Justin, from Adam's past. They're on the Internet.

Will they matter?

GUARINI: You know what, they...

KING: I haven't seen any.

GUARINI: They won't. They came out quite some time ago and I think Adam handled it wonderfully when he said you know what, this is a singing contest. And, you know, he's handled it very well. You know, I don't think people care. They...

YAMIN: I agree.

CALDWELL: Yes.

GUARINI: They judge him for his talent...

CALDWELL: We don't care.

YAMIN: Who cares?

GUARINI: And that's what matters on this show.

KING: Do you all like him?

You like him, Kimberly?

CALDWELL: Yes. I love him. I think he's amazing. I think that -- I think, he deserves the crown. But I think that if he doesn't take home the crown, he's going to be ridiculously successful regardless. But I think he came in really, really polished. And that's from all of his stage experience.

KING: Ryan, you're good at forecasting.

Is this kid going to make it no matter what?

SEACREST: I think they both will, no matter what. You've got to remember, last week, going into this, the top two -- so Adam and Kris, now that we know it's those two -- only a million votes out of 88 million separate them.

KING: Oh. The second finalist, we just mentioned him, Kris Allen, 23, married, Arkansas his home state. Randi said his version of "Heartless" was better than Kanye's.

Did I say that, right?

CALDWELL: Kanye's.

GUARINI: Kanye's.

YAMIN: Kanye's.

CALDWELL: It's OK, Larry.

YAMIN: Kanye West.

CALDWELL: He's a -- he's new in the music industry.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Kanye West. I know him.

CALDWELL: Kanye West -- Larry, you know Kanye.

KING: I know Kanye West. I know him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know Kanye West.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Yes. Well, enough time with the doctor.

CALDWELL: Then the other version that Kris did was actually a version of The Fray's.

GUARINI: Right. I think we're going to watch a clip of that.

SEACREST: And I think Randy thought it was better than The Fray's version, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.

CALDWELL: Oh, yes (INAUDIBLE).

KING: OK. Let's all watch Kris.

(MUSIC)

KING: OK, Elliott, what do you make of Kris?

YAMIN: I think he's great. I think like -- he kind of reminds -- his kind of situation kind of reminds me -- I mean, obviously he finished third, I finished third. So we -- we kind of share that parallel.

But I agree with what you said. I mean he seems to be -- to have been picking up steam toward the latter part of the competition...

CALDWELL: Yes.

YAMIN: And I love what he -- I love his arrangements. I love what he does with the songs.

I was a little disappointed with "Apologize" because -- because he put an A in front of the apologize, you know, on the album version of that song, you know...

KING: I apologize?

YAMIN: One Republic says it's too late to pologize.

CALDWELL: To pologize.

YAMIN: And, you know what I mean?

(CROSSTALK)

CALDWELL: I know.

GUARINI: He made it his own.

CALDWELL: Elliott.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Ryan?

Ryan, what did...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Ryan, what do you make of him?

SEACREST: I think it's amazing how harsh they become after they're on "American Idol."

(CROSSTALK)

SEACREST: They're crushing us.

YAMIN: Let him have a gold album and see what happens, huh?

SEACREST: I mean that...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Ryan, do you like him?

CALDWELL: Elliott says you're a meanie.

SEACREST: I do like him. I like Kris a lot. I think Kris knows exactly who he is. I think Adam obviously knows who he is. I just -- I have some new news. I just saw those two over at the set earlier today. And in the finale Tuesday, during the finale, round one -- speaking of songs -- will be the contestant favorite. So one of their favorite songs from the season.

Round two -- this is just coming out now. Round two will be Simon Fuller's pick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow!

SEACREST: And round three will be the winner's single. And this year, whoever wins will have the same single. So that's new stuff for you, Larry.

KING: Wow!

CALDWELL: It's just like the first (INAUDIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Every time you tune on this program, you learn something new.

The winner, runner-up and the rest of the top 10 will be our guests next Friday with "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest as host.

Go to CNN.com/larryking and read Elliott's Web exclusive.

More with the Idols after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Ryan on the phone and Justin, Kimberly and Elliott here in the studio.

A couple of quick comments from Twitter: "I want Kris to win "Idol." Adam will have success regardless."

"Adam is an amazing talent. It will be a travesty if he fails to win."

"Did I mention that Elliott Yamin should have won. But this year, Adam and Kris, they're both great and they're unique."

Now, the judges sometimes forget they're not the show. Yes, figure that out.

Let's watch as they stole the spotlight this week with their fighting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "AMERICAN IDOL," COURTESY FREMANTLEMEDIA NORTH AMERICA INC./19 TV LTD/FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted you to make it more your own, not be behind the piano. Maybe just sit out front with a guitar, acoustic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, Cara (ph), it's a copout what you said. You can't choose a song for him and then blame him for doing the song.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to tell me about interpreting songs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you interpreted a song in your life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish. It was a...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...competent version of the original, but not quite as good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If she wants you to play it on the guitar, you should have played it on the guitar. You can't blame him. You didn't hold up to your responsibility.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're supposed to tell him...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't hold up to your responsibilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be able to...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Hey, Ryan, how do you like the four judge theme?

SEACREST: I like Kara (ph). I like her a lot. I -- I think she's been a great addition this year. And I think that she'll probably be back next year. As far as I know, the cast returns next year and we do it all over again. We hit the audition circuit soon. I think we're going to go out earlier this summer than normal.

But you listen to those clips and that was them fighting over the judges' choice for the contestants. And it is true, it does become, between them, a competition about who's made the best choice and who gets the best feedback among the judges for that choice, wouldn't you say, guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CALDWELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

KING: By the way, Kimberly and Justin are going to host "Idol" tonight, "Live At the Finale," next Wednesday on their TV Guide Channel, right?

CALDWELL: Yes, sir.

GUARINI: Right.

KING: We're looking...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: We're looking forward to that.

All right. How -- are the judges more important than the fans?

GUARINI: No. I mean I think it's...

(CROSSTALK)

GUARINI: ...everything is -- is equal. You know, the judges have a very important role in helping to -- to guide the fans...

CALDWELL: Right.

GUARINI: ...and to help guide the contestants, even more importantly, you know, so...

KING: But they don't have a final vote.

GUARINI: So sometimes they, I guess, think...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Or they're just...

(CROSSTALK)

CALDWELL: I mean I don't think the judges have the final say. And sometimes people really, really agree with what Simon has to say because he's the most brutally honest. But sometimes, when Simon says something like, Adam, you should go to the finals, then all of the other people's fans go, oh, really, well, watch this. We're going rally together and, you know, maybe help Kris out.

KING: What do you think, Elliott?

YAMIN: I think that -- that the criticism the judges give, I think that they -- they can definitely persuade voters in different ways.

CALDWELL: For sure.

YAMIN: You know what I mean, I think a lot of times that Simon can be -- what's the word?

GUARINI: Blunt?

YAMIN: He can be blunt.

CALDWELL: Blunt.

YAMIN: He can be blunt. But sometimes it will be -- you'll think it's out of context, but it may appear that he's maybe trying to help...

GUARINI: Yes.

YAMIN: ...you know, help...

CALDWELL: If you look at it in a constructive way and maybe use it, then it sometimes helps.

KING: Hey, Ryan, how long before we know it do you know the winner?

SEACREST: Well, this week, I found out especially early because I was really personally dying to know who had made it into the finale.

The results come in -- and first thing early in the morning, when I go to the radio show, at 4:30 in the morning, I could get the results. But I don't because I'm on the live radio and I don't want to screw it up and accidentally blurt it out. So I usually find out right around lunch time. And then it -- sometimes it's difficult -- you guy have all been there. Sometimes it's difficult because I don't want to look at anybody longer than the other and telegraph anything.

KING: So you know it midday?

SEACREST: I do know midday. And then we come up with how we're going to...

KING: Announce it.

SEACREST: ...announce it and choreograph the announcement, so that when the contestants are standing on the set, they can't quite figure out what's going to happen either. You get the element of surprise.

CALDWELL: Ryan's good at making us all sweat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's torture.

Thanks, Ryan, by the way.

CALDWELL: That's for sure.

KING: Ryan, do you do one of those things like...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ...and the winner is...

But first, we'll be right back.

CALDWELL: Yes. Always.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, exactly. Commercial breaks.

SEACREST: All the time, Larry.

KING: In other words, Ryan, you're basically a sadist?

(LAUGHTER)

SEACREST: No. Not quite that far. Not quite. I wouldn't go that far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An "Idol" sadist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) like an oxymoron there.

KING: You're putting them through torment, though.

SEACREST: I love -- I love that we get to milk it a little bit. And also, you know, the idea is that the audience is on the edge of their seat and the contestants are on the edge of their seat, too.

KING: Thank you all very much.

Ryan, I love when you host this show. I'm looking forward to it next Friday and the following Monday.

Thanks, gang, for coming by.

CALDWELL: Thanks, Larry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for having us.

SEACREST: Next Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

KING: Thanks, Ryan.

SEACREST: See you, bud.

KING: You're the best.

There's no one like Ryan. The only problem is we've got to get him a job.

CALDWELL: Oh, right. I know. He only has five.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not enough (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Sanjaya Malakar is next, in 60 seconds.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The winner, runner-up and the rest of the top 10 will be our guests next Friday, with "Idol" host, Ryan Seacrest.

Joining us now from New York is Sanjaya Malakar, who finished seventh in season six of "American Idol," probably more famous for his hair than his singing, but a pretty good singer, too.

Jordin Sparks won that season. He'll be on the new season of "I Am A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here."

Thanks for being with us, Sanjay.

All right, have you been following "American Idol" this year?

SANJAYA MALAKAR, FORMER "AMERICAN IDOL" CONTESTANT: Yes, I have. I've been keeping up as much as possible to keep it all in perspective.

KING: We're down -- we're down to two.

What do you think?

MALAKAR: It's hard. I mean they both have very unique things going for them. I think that Kris has that kind of softer, sweet tone to his voice. And, obviously, Adam is obviously totally out there, a powerhouse singer. So I think it's -- it will be interesting to see the -- the last final show.

KING: Does it come...

MALAKAR: About...

KING: ...basically comes down to your kind of personal preference and what you like in a singer?

MALAKAR: Yes. Exactly. And, I mean, it's -- it's hard because when you're watching it, like with Adam, obviously, he, like, right away takes you with his performance and he's very consistent, he's very creative and he's very much a full performer, whereas Kris is more of like a musician, sit at the piano, sit at the guitar and really listen to the music. And it's -- so it's -- it's all about what the season's audience wants to see.

KING: OK.

The big question -- who's going to win?

MALAKAR: I don't know. I have no idea. I've tried to predict it in the past and failed miserably. So right now I'm just -- I'm just kind of watching, trying to see how they do this in the finale. And that's really what's going to be important.

KING: And, quickly, are you surprised that Danny Gokey didn't make it to the finale?

MALAKAR: I'm a little surprised, But, again, it's -- I mean the audience has their preferences and he's -- I mean as long as -- all you really have to do to be successful after "American Idol" is work hard and utilize the connections that you make.

KING: Yes.

MALAKAR: So I think that he'll be fine.

KING: And you embody that.

Thanks, Sanjaya.

MALAKAR: Thank you.

KING: Sanjaya Malakar.

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard are here. It's opening night for "Angels and Demons." And hear what Hanks has planned for the next presidential election, all -- presidential election. He's planned it already.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) On this Friday night, good evening.

A terrific film opened today. I saw it last week. It's "Angels and Demons."

And three of its principals are with us.

In New York, Tom Hanks, two time Oscar winner. He's the star of the movie.

Ron Howard, another Oscar winner, is the director.

And Ayelet Zurer from Israel plays Vittoria in, as we said, "Angels and Demons."

Ron, you held the world premier in Rome, where the church is kind of sensitive about this.

Why there?

(LAUGHTER)

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR: Well, we filmed there. And the movie -- the movie is set in Rome. And so, you know, it seemed -- it seemed like the appropriate place to -- to kick it off.

I think the -- the premier screening was actually scheduled to be in one location. And about, I don't know, a week or so before we were supposed to actually -- to have the premier, the Vatican asked them not to -- not to have -- not to let us use that facility. So we shifted it somewhere else.

But otherwise, all went smoothly.

KING: Tom, before we see one of the clips from the movie, you have kind of put your stamp on this -- "Angels and Demons," "Da Vinci Code."

What attracted you to the project?

HANKS: Well, the intelligence and, I think, in some ways, the ambivalence of the character of Robert Langdon. He's a very smart guy. He's probably the only symbologist in the world. And his reading of -- of his expertise -- the symbols, the history -- is -- is pushed through this sieve of knowledge that takes emotion and faith possibly out of any -- any of the equations.

He looks at -- he can look at something that would mean one thing to one culture and it means something completely different in modern times or depending on what other culture it is.

So as a selfish actor, it's great fun to play somebody as smart as Robert Langer.

KING: Was it a, though, tough script to remember? HANKS: Well, the -- you get into some pretty fascinating rigmarole. But, as we can all attest, we all end up having sort of like a -- a seminar on all of these topics. We sit around for hours and discuss things like particle physics and what's it mean and the history of the Illuminati and who was and who was not a member of it.

And so you actually kind of like are able to regurgitate it, almost like you're going through your -- your oral exam before you...

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: ...before you get your sheepskin.

KING: We'll talk to Ayelet about how she got the part.

But first, let's take a look at a scene from "Angels and Demons."

We'll watch as Tom and Ayelet get their first big break in this mysterious Vatican plot.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "ANGELS AND DEMONS," COURTESY COLUMBIA PICTURES)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you get that paper?

ZURER: We borrowed it.

HANKS: From Santi's earthly tomb with demon's hole...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you -- are you...

HANKS: ...cross Rome the mystic elements unfold.

(CROSSTALK)

HANKS: The path of light is laid, the sacred test. Let angels guide thee on thy lofty quest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You removed a document from the Vatican archives?

HANKS: She did.

ZURER: From Santi's earthly tomb -- this just might be Santi's tomb.

HANKS: Yes.

ZURER: But -- but who's Santi?

HANKS: Rafael.

ZURER: In an abandoned (ph) culture?

HANKS: Yes. Santi was his last name.

ZURER: (INAUDIBLE) Rafael's tomb?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rafael is buried at the Pantheon.

ZURER: Isn't the Pantheon a church?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The oldest Catholic church in Rome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, Ayelet, how did you get the part?

AYELET ZURER, ACTOR: Well, like usually, somebody called someone and then they call you to come in to meet with Ron. And I did. And I was, to be honest, very determined to -- to be -- to play this role, because I -- from the moment I read it, I felt like I really knew what to do with it.

And when I met Tom and read with him, it was very easy. And I felt very comfortable right away. And the conversation with Ron and the feeling that he had in that particular reading felt so nice. And it was in a little theater rather than a room with the people which will, in the future, determine your further life. So that was more easy and more -- you know, an actor's life rather than Hollywood.

And -- and then, three weeks later -- you took your time...

(LAUGHTER)

ZURER: They called...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

HOWARD: ...right off the bat.

HANKS: Hire that determined girl.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: Let's get that determined girl in this thing.

(CROSSTALK)

ZURER: I was so determined that I didn't even learn the names of the other actresses because I really felt that I didn't want to channel any energy toward that.

KING: Wow!

You were terrific, Ayelet. Terrific.

ZURER: Thank you.

KING: Ron, does controversy -- and this film has it -- help or hurt?

HOWARD: Well, I think it -- look, I think it -- it helps. In fact, it's part of what's interesting about what Dan Brown writes is, you know, it's -- it's thought provoking stuff.

Now, in "Da Vinci Code," really, the controversial ideas were -- was driving the movie more than the action, more than the suspense. It really was about presenting those -- those ideas and making the argument for them and stirring that thought.

This has its ideas and it is smart and intelligent and interesting. But I would say that it's reversed. I think that the -- the mystery, the code breaking, the thriller nature of it is -- is, from a directorial standpoint, really out in front.

And -- and -- but still, you know, it has its ideas. They are controversial. At least it gives -- at least it gives people something to talk about and think about on the way home if they -- if they want to.

KING: It sure does. And, also, the action never stops.

Let me remind the folks, this is -- it's a terrific story, but it's a heck of a thriller.

Tom, now, as I understand it, "Angels and Demons" was written before "Da Vinci Code," right?

HANKS: Yes. It was written so long ago, in fact, that there was no Internet, there was no Google. And Dan Brown, for some reason, presented the election of the pope as a -- as a minor story that is not really covered by the world's media.

So it -- it had some innate -- I wouldn't say inaccuracies, but things that were taken out of time. And it required a substantial amount of adaptation to -- to the way life works in 2009.

KING: By the way, if you have a message for Tom or Ron or Ayelet or a comment about "Angels and Demons," go to cnn.com/larryking. Let them know. Click on the blog and start typing.

Ahead, the question everyone is asking. Tom changed his much talked about hair style for this film.

Did critics make -- why?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It opened today. It's "Angels and Demons." I'm going to bet that it leads the weekend in intake of dollars.

Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and Ayelet Zurer are with us, the two stars and the director of the movie.

Quickly, Ron, the hair style -- or, rather, Tom -- the hair style.

By the way, you know, in this movie you look like -- somewhat like the late William Holden.

Have you been told that?

HANKS: You're -- I think you're the first interviewer who remembers William Holden, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: But this is a testament to your -- your luminous knowledge of --

KING: That's correct.

HANKS: -- of entertainment lore. It has nothing to do with, perhaps, being of the generation that watched "Bridge Over the River Kwai" 17 times.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: Like, actually, we -- we did.

HOWARD: I thought it.

HANKS: But, you know --

HOWARD: I actually thought it.

HANKS: But, you know, the hair, really -- I mean you can talk all about controversies about theological dogma or how the inaccuracies of particle physics. But the hair, this is really the big deal here as far as the media goes.

KING: I know.

HANKS: And my job, as an actor, is to provide motivation for my character. And, quite frankly, somewhere between "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," Professor Robert Langdon -- symbologist -- had, perhaps, a slight affair with a -- with a graduate student who recommended to him that he -- that he cut his hair.

And, of course, it's the first thing he ran out and did. They had a couple of nice dinners, a couple of nice bottles of wine and then she left him. She left him, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: She left him high and dry.

(LAUGHTER) HANKS: So what's -- what's Professor Langdon left to do but keep writing the book and grow his hair back again in time for a possible third movie in the series.

(LAUGHTER)

ZURER: (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

HOWARD: You just understand how -- you know, what makes an actor tick.

KING: Yes. You can tell Tom's had a long career.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Ayelet, did you like this script right away?

ZURER: I did. I -- I just loved how intelligent Vittoria is and -- and I actually had a -- I spent some time on the Internet looking at physics, because I have a little boy. And he was playing with magnets. And I sort of suspected that I wouldn't be able to explain to him what's the idea and how things work. And I went into that.

And so when I met with Ron, I kind of went into the realms of physics. And -- and when I got the part, I was so thrilled, because I got really curious and actually, I spent an excessive amount of time watching your show with Lisa Randall, I think.

KING: Yes.

ZURER: And I watched -- I use YouTube a lot and I just had so much fun learning all those things.

KING: Well, you did --

ZURER: And still do.

KING: You did it superbly.

Ron, does it bug you when many people in the Vatican, in the church, complain about the movie without having seen it or just basing it on they don't like Dan Brown?

HOWARD: Well, that's the -- you -- you said it, Larry. You know, I mean I -- I'm fully prepared to accept any criticism based on the movie. But, you know, it's absolutely frustrating if -- if they're making a -- an assumption.

Nonetheless, look, the -- the idea here is to take a -- any work of fiction, to build a thriller around a time when the church is in conclave. It's a heightened moment and -- and we all know that, at various times, the church, as any major institution experiences, has been compromised.

And -- and so some of the virtues are threatened by the personal agendas of those within it. And -- and that's very human.

In fact, you can read all about it in the Vatican bookstore. They'll tell you in history, you know, all about the number of times that that kind of thing has happened.

So, Dan took inspiration from that kind of a circumstance and, I think, created a -- you know, a really interesting, exciting movie.

KING: The Conclave, Tom, the scenes shot inside the Conclave, which no one has ever been, required some stretch, did it not?

HANKS: Well, I think that the actual procedure is pretty well duly noted. As I remember just from the last election of -- even of Pope Benedict, we kind of got a primer about how the ballots are kept --

KING: Yes.

HANKS: -- and how the cardinals come from all over the world. So there's actually the -- the procedural part of the election of the pope, I think, is actually quite fascinating.

But we -- we constantly argued about, well, you know, how -- how much of the tradition did we want to bust up here?

I don't think anybody gets to kick down the door of the Sistine Chapel and run in and make a grand announcement of what's going on.

But this is such the nature of a -- of a kooky action-packed horse race of a -- of a treasure hunt that -- that is "Angels and Demons".

HOWARD: But there's never been any atom bomb, you know, underneath the Vatican.

HANKS: I mean, hey, we are so inaccurate --

(CROSSTALK)

HANKS: -- when it comes down to particle physics, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: That alone is worthy of scandal and an examination.

HOWARD: But here's the thing about the Conclave that really was fascinating to me and interesting, is that you -- you know -- you know why they began that process of actually locking the cardinals in during Conclave, it -- it's not to keep secrets from leaking out. It's actually to lock the doors and -- and keep evil out.

KING: Ah.

HOWARD: And so the idea that -- that their goal is to make as pure a connection with God as possible --

KING: I've got it.

HOWARD: -- and as pure a decision as possible.

KING: That makes sense.

HOWARD: So you know, again, this is a circumstance where, you know, evil has somehow found its way in.

KING: More sneak peeks and more action and more -- lots coming about "Angels & Demons" when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the stars and director of "Angels & Demons," which opened today.

Let's take another look at this highly anticipated film. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ANGELS & DEMONS")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a one-way portal.

HANKS: The only entrance is on the other side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No! Hey! I don't know!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey!

HANKS: (INAUDIBLE) was in danger.

(END VIDEO CLIP, "ANGELS & DEMONS")

KING: By the way, I might add, the music is sensational. Sensational.

HOWARD: Hans Zimmer wrote the fantastic score. I've worked with Hans a number of times. He's also done, you know, "Pirates of the Caribbean," the recent "Batman" movie, "Gladiator." He's a great, great composer. And yes, he had his work cut out for him, and he really loves the movie, loved what it was about, and really rose to the occasion.

KING: Any problem getting permission to shoot scenes in certain places, Ron?

(LAUGHTER)

HOWARD: A very diplomatically phrased question, Larry. We knew we would never get cooperation from the Vatican. During "Da Vinci Code," we would occasionally ask if we could work inside certain Catholic churches, and the answer was always no. You know, kind of understandably.

We didn't even ask when it came to "Angels & Demons," but we did hope that we would be able to shoot as much of the movie as possible in Rome, and we hoped that they wouldn't negatively influence that possibility. And we did wind up shooting a lot there.

However, at the last minute, there were about three different locations where, unofficially, we were told that there had been some communication and, you know, it was implied that the Vatican had suggested that we -- they'd rather we not film certain churches in the background of locations that we were scheduled to work. And we wound up scrambling and still, I think, managing to really take people on the whole "Angels & Demon" experience. But, you know, it was a challenge.

But Rome was great. They were great to us. And the fact that we filmed there first was really valuable, because I think it gave it a kind of an energy and an authenticity that, you know, was palpable and influenced the movie.

KING: Tom, do you handle controversy well?

HANKS: Well, I think it's always in the hands of the holder. I think, by and large, films are controversial. And anything you say about a film, be it a criticism or a view, is warranted. I don't think there's any such thing as unfair criticism.

Everybody's entitled to an opinion and, in fact, should communicate it. I mean, I, myself, there's a whole list of films I don't go to because I think it is going to be against some aspect of what I think makes good entertainment or is worthwhile spending my time. And when we ask people to come in and spend some hard-earned money, as well as a couple hours of their day with us, I would hope they would be going -- doing so under the guise that they're going to feel as though it was time and money well spent.

But, you know, controversy is as controversy does. I do believe it's very difficult to make any sort of statement, to do anything, in fact, without warranting some brand of controversy from somebody. You know, you can make a thing that you think is a joke and it gets blown out of proportion, or you can make a film that someone can criticize because they don't like the way you stacked up rocks in the background of one of the shots.

So, it just happens. And it's part of the grand scheme of things.

HOWARD: Good fiction does that. You know? It entertains and it presents some ideas along the way.

HANKS: What show would Larry King have without some good, spirited controversy?

KING: Correct.

By the way, Tom and Ron, I don't have to tell you, are a movie industry in and of themselves. We'll take a quick look at some of their great teamwork in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

Tom and Ron, a film -- long history that is -- well, what can we say about it? Let's watch some of their fantastic collaborations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANKS: I'm innocent.

Houston, we have a problem.

The mind sees what it chooses to see.

We just lost the Moon.

An entire city consumed by light.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Before we go to a quick break, why do you two work so well together, Tom, you and Ron, do you think?

HANKS: Well, I think Ron used to be an actor and he understands what I go through. And I would like to be in a director, but I don't have the same instincts that he does naturally. So I believe our nooks fit each other's crannies, if that makes sense.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Ron?

HOWARD: I think we have similar sort of taste and real curiosity about stories. If you look at the films, you know, three completely different genres and styles of movies -- romantic comedy, you know, an adventure story based on fact and nonfiction film, and this mystery thriller genre that we've been working in. Completely different kinds of characters, and it's been a really creative, interesting experience.

We've been on the same page as to what those films ought to look like and feel like, and it's -- as collaboration goes, you know, it's something I really, really look forward to each and every time I have the chance to work with Tom.

HANKS: He's never shown up drunk and I've never taken a swing at him. So, so far, so good.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Even though this is fiction, the Catholic League is not happy, and we'll hear what they have to say and get our guests' reactions next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Science and religion are not enemies. There are simply some things that science is just to young to understand. The church pleads, slow down. Think, wait. For this they call us backwards. But who is more ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not resect it's natural awesome power?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The film is "Angels & Demons."

William Donahue, no stranger to the media, of the Catholic League, gave us this statement about you guys and the movie: "Dan Brown has written that it is a historical fact that the Illuminati vowed vengeance against the Vatican in the 1600s. They were expelled from Rome by the Vatican and hunted mercilessly. Ron Howard says the Illuminati were formed in the 1600s, they were artists and scientists like Galileo and Bernini, whose progressive ideas threatened the movie and the Vatican. And in the movie, Tom Hanks, playing Robert Langdon, says of the Illuminati, the Catholic Church ordered the brutal massacre to silence them forever."

"All of this is a lie. The Illuminati were founded on May 1, 1776, dissolved in 1787. Galileo died in 1642. Moreover, the Catholic Church never assaulted, much less killed, any member of the Illuminati."

"Why then do these people continue to lie about the Catholic Church?"

Ron?

HOWARD: Well, first of all, if you look at Dan Brown, I think it even says it's a novel. You know, it's fiction from start to finish, from the moment you open the book cover.

And so, second -- first I'd say that, and it certainly applies to the movie.

Second, I would say that what Dan does and the movie, therefore, does, is it exploits fringe theories that he's researched, ancient conspiracy theories, or -- and some modern. You know, if you go on the Internet, you can find a site that tells you that Barack Obama is a member of the Illuminati today.

And he weaves all these possibilities into a very exciting and very thought-provoking stew. And it's -- you know, I think the reason it's been so popular and so successful is that it works on a lot of different levels and pushes a lot of buttons.

KING: Do you understand, Tom, why devout members of a particular church or sect would take offense, even though it's a novel?

HANKS: Yes, sure. And I don't think they should come to see the movie. If they're going to be offended, they shouldn't pay any money, they shouldn't waste their time. This is a big, fat piece of fake goo. It's not a documentary any more so than "Iron Man" or "Speed Racer" is a story about how to put on a rocket suit or drive a car really fast.

It is nothing more than a conspiracy theory brand of pot boiler entertainment. And if we were going to come out and say this is exactly what would happen, it wouldn't be made by Sony. We wouldn't be trying to compete for a place in the marketplace.

Let's put it out there once more again. This is a fake movie of people saying and doing fake things. After that, make your choice of whether you want to come or not.

KING: Does it, though, bother you a little, Ron, just to have people -- since you've been always so Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. Pure, to have people knock you?

HOWARD: Well, look, it doesn't make me feel good to read something negative in the press. And, you know, I don't take some masochistic pleasure in that. But, at the same time, it is what I signed on for, because going back to "Da Vinci Code," the fact that, yes, it's fiction, but it does cause people to talk and think and perhaps get angry, maybe go to the Internet, check the facts themselves, discuss it, maybe go to a church group -- you know, a lot of theologians are thrilled with Dan Brown because he drives a lot of people to the church to talk and understand more deeply and define their belief systems.

So, knowing that you're walking into something that has that possibility, you know, you also know that you're going to face a bit of that negativity, and it goes with the territory.

KING: We have one segment left with our guests. The movie "Angels & Demons" opened earlier today. This is airing Friday night.

We've covered religion. We'll get into politics and what the stars think of our new president when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

What do you make of this administration, Ron? We'll get a little politics in.

HOWARD: You know, every time I watch President Obama representing our country, I feel proud, I feel safer, and I feel like America's best is being put forth.

KING: You supported him vigorously, did you not, Tom?

HANKS: Just before the Indiana primary I put a thing out on a MySpace page. And yes, I would very excited about his candidacy and also about the election. And look, I don't want to kick off CNN's campaign watch 2012, but I think he's doing such a good job, I'm planning to vote for his reelection. KING: Ah-ha. That's going out. We're sending that out, Tom. That's big news.

HANKS: You heard it here.

KING: You think the church, Tom, should be involved in, say, state issues like gay marriage? I know you were opposed to Proposition 8, were you not?

HANKS: I was. I was. I still am.

I think we have a president in the United States of America that our founding fathers were very smart to, first of all, dream up and then to codify -- they write down on a piece of paper that says very distinctly a separation of church and state. I think there are things that one must render under Caesar, and there are things that you must render under God. And I think that's one of the things that makes America as strong and good as it is.

KING: A couple other quick things.

Dan Brown's got a new book coming out. I understand, Ron, you're going to direct it already.

What's it about it?

HOWARD: Well, I don't know. And, you know, I'm very optimistic about it, but I honestly -- I can't get Dan to really tell us the plot, other than he's very enthusiastic and, you know, it's going to be published on September 15th, I believe. And, you know, I'm really looking forward to it.

I really love this Robert Langdon character. I love what Tom's doing with the Robert Langdon character in the movie the way the character's evolving. And you know, and Dan's stories are intriguing.

KING: So Tom, are you also committed to this story you know nothing about?

HANKS: Well, I don't know anything about it, so I can't commit to anything yet. But really, if it's good, I'd be stupid to sit at home and let somebody else play Robert Langdon.

KING: Yes. And with that hair.

HANKS: Well, you know, unless the next William Holden shows up, I think I've got the part.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: The next --

HOWARD: We just shave the head altogether, or a Mohawk maybe.

KING: Ayelet, what's your next project?

ZURER: It is still vague, under curtains. I'm not sure. We'll see. We'll see.

KING: Ron, how -- one other thing, Ron. How difficult a shoot was "Angels & Demons" directorially?

HOWARD: It was challenging, and it was really unlike any other film. Even though it's a follow up to "Da Vinci Code," the visual approach to it was really different because of the pacing and the tempo and the sort of -- you know, the fact that the action is out in front on this movie.

But also, as much as we shot in Rome, there was so much that we had to create back in Los Angeles. And so, we really utilized every technique imaginable, old and new, some of them going back, dating back 100 years, the birth of the medium, and some absolute cutting- edge digital technology.

So, directorially, to create that environment, that atmosphere, to really transport audiences, was a directorial challenge, but a fun one. And we laughed our way through the whole thing. It was a blast.

KING: I don't think anyone tells a story or plays them better than you two.

Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Ayelet Zurer, congratulations on a great movie. Great having you with us.

HOWARD: Thank you, Larry.

HANKS: Thank you, Larry.

ZURER: Thank you very much.

HOWARD: Appreciate it.

KING: "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.